Just how unhealthy is your bunny chow? An expert weighs in

accreditation
Bunny chow is an unhealthy fast food.
Bunny chow is an unhealthy fast food.

A new fast food is on the rise in South Africa’s townships – spatlho, commonly known as bunny chow. You can find a spatlho outlet on almost every corner in Ikageng, a township in the North West province. The lucrative spatlho business has opened a gate for many township entrepreneurs, but has also meant more unhealthy food for people.

'Extremely unhealthy'

Spatlho is an affordable and convenient meal – a quarter of a loaf of bread is hollowed out and then packed with slap chips (deep-fried potato chips) and other fillings like cheese, egg, Russians and achar. However, nutritionist Kobus de Wet says the booming spatlho business is not good news because it’s seen township residents move away from traditional cooking, which is much better than the unhealthy takeaways.

De Wet described spatlhos as "extremely unhealthy" and said they could lead to weight gain and other health problems. 

Lucky Masego, the owner of Lucky's Fast Food, one of Ikageng's best known spatlho outlets, said on average he uses 40 10kg bags of potatoes and 80 litres of cooking oil a week. Masego said he had to employ two extra people last year because the spatlho demand was increasing, and now makes double compared to what he was making three years ago.

No time for exercise

“Right now business is booming; you see people opening spatlho places every six to eight months. Five years ago I was the only one operating in this area, now there are four of us. And we are all making money,” he said.

According to Lucky, some of his clients buy from him daily, sometimes more.

Taxi driver Ditaba Mokgosi said he eats spatlho twice a day, and that he's aware of the detrimental impact on his health but said it's a habit he just can’t break.

“I normally eat a spatlho for lunch and then in the evening when I head home I buy another one.  I'm aware of what it has done to my weight, but taxi drivers don't have enough time to get exercise, and I can't be eating apples during the day.” - Health-e News

Image credit: Wikimedia Images

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes
30% - 9686 votes
No
70% - 23028 votes
Vote